“American Horror Story”: The Axeman is Fact, not Fiction

Diana Price | Nov 20, 2013

 

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“American Horror Story” may be fiction, but at least one part of the story this season remains all too real: The Axeman.

Last week, the show aired an episode featuring one of New Orleans most notorious serial killers, and yes kids, he was really real. In fact, they used an actual letter that was sent by The Axeman in the episode, requesting that jazz music be played in every household lest they risk suffering the fate of his other victims.

The real Axeman unleashed his reign of terror in New Orleans in 1918 to 1919. As one would suspect, his modus operandi included killing his victims with an axe, usually the victim’s axe. Sometimes he used a straight razor, after breaking in the back door, but his motive for murder seemed like enjoyment of the act itself as nothing was ever taken from the homes.

The notorious letter referenced in “American Horror Story,” feels reminiscent of a letter written by the infamous Jack the Ripper signed, “From Hell.” The letter begins “Hell, March 13, 1919.” Interesting, but for the two killers to be the same person would mean the New Orleans killer would’ve been at least 48 years old and likely much older, as Jack the Ripper terrorized London in 1888, some 30 years prior.

But hey, the theory sounds more plausible than some that have been put out there.

Many of The Axeman’s victims were Italian-American, leading to speculation of some Mafia involvement, but no evidence supported this theory. More likely, this guy was just a very bad man. The police never caught him, and the reign of terror simply ended as abruptly as it started.

In “American Horror Story,” he met his maker after a coven of witches lured him in and killed him. Unless the writers have some inside line on some unwritten history, that isn’t the case. But there were people who felt no fear of The Axeman, going as far as sending him invitations to come visit their house.

The witches of “American Horror Story: Coven” proved way smarter than those folks.

The writers presented an interesting possible connection to jazz music, when they noted that an “axeman” serves as a slang term for a saxophone player. Could the real Axeman have been a jazz saxophonist? Could his use of axes been a sly taunt to policeman to catch him, as serial killers often play games with investigators?

“American Horror Story: Coven” gives us their take on the notorious serial killer this season, but if you want to read more writers’ interpretations of this bad guy, you can check out work by such authors as Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted or Poppy Z. Brite’s short story, “Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz.”

What do you think The Axeman (Danny Huston) will do now that he’s been released back into the world? Will he come back to seek revenge on the current coven for the crimes of their sisters? What’s he planning on doing after picking up Supreme Fiona (Jessica Lange) in a bar at the end of last week’s episode?

 

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